An Italian Homestyle Feast

Pork Tenderloin.jpg
Pork Tenderloin.jpg

He comes from a family of chefs and home cooks! Food Network favorite Damiano Carrara joined us to share a few of his delicious (and they were so tasty!) dishes featured in his new cookbook, A Taste of Italy: 100 Traditional, Homestyle Recipes.

For more information on Damiano, visit the Cararra Kitchen website.

Filetto di Maiale con Salsa al Latte (Pork Tenderloin with Milk Sauce)

"This recipe makes a lot of extra sauce, so it’s the perfect dish to fare la scarpetta, which means to mop your plate clean with some good bread!"

prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 30 minutes | serves: 4


  • 2 pounds (1kg) pork tenderloin
  • 1?2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8–12 tablespoons (60–100ml) extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1–2 quarts (1–2L) whole milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped


  1. Season the pork tenderloin with cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. In a saucepan, heat 4–6 tablespoons (60–100ml) olive oil. Once the oil is hot, give the tenderloin a nice sear all over, about 7–8 minutes. This will seal in the juices.
  2. Add the milk to the pan and cover it with a lid. Keep cooking the meat over medium to low heat, checking it every 10 minutes. Flip the meat periodically so it will absorb the flavor of the milk. Check the meat every 10 minutes and add more milk, as it cooks down, so there is always enough milk to cover the meat. Continue this process until the meat is fully cooked. Test for doneness with a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches at least 145°F (60°C), remove the meat from the pan and let it rest.
  3. Continue cooking the milk in the pan over medium to low heat, and add more milk, if needed, until you have a thick sauce.
  4. In another pan, place 4–6 tablespoons (60–100 ml) olive oil, crushed garlic, bell peppers, and a pinch of the salt and pepper. Cook the mixture over medium heat for about 8 minutes.
  5. Slice the pork and serve the bell peppers on the side. Pour the milk sauce over the pork and serve.

Risotto Radicchio e Gorgonzola con Pancetta (Radicchio and Gorgonzola Risotto with Crispy Pancetta)

"Although most people don’t experience their first taste of radicchio until they’re grown-ups, I have enjoyed its delicious bitter taste since I was little. Sweet Gorgonzola, mixed in with radicchio, creates a delicious balance of flavors. This recipe is a great metaphor for life: there are sweet moments and bitter ones, but you have to have both in order to appreciate how great the good ones are."

Prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 20 minutes | serves: 4 people

  • 4 tablespoons (60ml) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for frying pancetta
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cups (400g) arborio rice
  • 1?2 cup (120ml) white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 1 1?2 quarts (1.5L) chicken broth
  • 5 ounces (140g) diced pancetta
  • 1?2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
  • 1?3 cup (50g) Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
  • 1 bunch radicchio, coarsely chopped
  • 1?2 cup (40g) parmigiano, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a saucepan, heat all of the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook them until they are golden (for approximately 4–5 minutes). When the shallots are done, add the arborio rice and keep stirring the mixture 2–3 minutes longer to lightly toast the rice. This will help release its fragrant aroma.
  2. Add the white wine and cook until it all evaporates. Start adding just enough of the chicken broth to cover the rice and continue to let it simmer on low heat. Make sure to constantly stir and check the rice to keep it from burning. Once the rice has absorbed all the broth, add more. Continue this process for 15–20 minutes or until the rice is almost al dente. Make sure not to overcook the rice.
  3. While you are waiting for the rice to cook, start making the crispy pancetta. Heat a splash of extra virgin olive oil in a small pan, and then toss in the diced pancetta. Move the pancetta back and forth in the pan until it has cooked and is nice and crispy. This process should take 4–5 minutes. When the pancetta is done, remove it from the pan and let it sit on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess fat and keep the pancetta from getting soggy.
  4. When the rice is almost al dente, start adding the cream, Gorgonzola, and radicchio. Mix everything together, and then add the parmigiano. Cook the risotto for another 2–3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Plate and garnish the risotto with the crispy pancetta and serve immediately.

Bruschetta con Peperonata (Mixed Bell Pepper Bruschetta)

"I have been eating this dish since I was a child. Whenever we had leftover bread, we would make bruschetta and eat it with peperonata. The person who inspired this recipe was my mom, Laura—and the pear is the secret ingredient that neutralizes the acidity of the peppers and prevents heartburn."

prep time: 10 minutes | cooking time: 30 minutes | serves: 4

For the Peperonata

  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 5 tablespoons (75ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1?2 cup (120ml) white wine
  • One whole ripe Bartlett pear
  • One 28-ounce (840g) can whole San Marzano tomatoes

For the Crostini

  • 1 baguette
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A few arugula leaves for garnish (optional)


  1. To make the peperonata: Start by washing the bell peppers. Cut the tops off at the stem. Remove the ribs and seeds. Slice the peppers, lengthwise, about 1?4 inch (6mm) thick slices. Set them aside.
  2. Slice the onion into long pieces. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat and toss in the sliced onions. Add some salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of crushed red pepper. Cook the onions until they become golden (about 8 minutes). Add the bell peppers to the onions and mix them together. Cook the bell pepper–and– onion mixture over high heat for 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan by taking it off the stove and adding the wine. Put the pan back on the stove and allow everything to continue to cook.
  3. In the meantime, core the pear and slice it into 4 pieces and dice the San Marzano tomatoes. Add the pear and tomatoes to the pan with the bell pepper–and–onion mixture. Cover and simmer the mixture over low to medium heat for 20–25 minutes. Cook the mixture until the peppers are soft, remove the lid, and continue to cook (approximately 5 to 8 minutes) until the tomato sauce has thickened.
  4. To make the crostini: Cut a fresh baguette diagonally, into pieces about 1?2 inch (12mm) thick. Drizzle some olive oil over the baguette slices and sprinkle them with some salt and pepper. Grill each side for about 3 minutes until the bread is crispy and a nice golden brown.
  5. Assembly: Place some of the peperonata mixture on top of the crostini. For a nice touch, garnish with some fresh arugula.


"My mom, Laura, loves coffee and chocolate. This recipe for tiramisù has been in my family from before I was born. The creaminess of the cake, with its pure, strong coffee taste, makes tiramisù one of the most popular cakes ever created in Italy. This recipe gives you the option of making one large Genoise sponge cake to use in the tiramisù or you can pipe Genoise (Basic Sponge Cake) batter to make lady fingers. Either way, the result is a wonderfully decadent dessert."

Prep time: 40 minutes | cooking time: 5 minutes | serves: 8

For the Filling:

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1?2 cup + 2 tablespoons (120g) sugar, divided
  • 2 cups (300g) mascarpone
  • 1?2 cup (100g) dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa), roughly chopped
  • Genoise (Basic Sponge Cake) batter (see below)

For the Topping

  • Espresso coffee
  • Cocoa powder
  • Sugar, to taste


  1. To make the filling: Whip the egg yolks with half the sugar until smooth and creamy.
  2. In a separate bowl, using a whisk or a handheld electric mixer, whip the egg whites with the other half of the sugar until stiff peaks form, approximately 5 minutes.
  3. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), whip the mascarpone and slowly incorporate the egg-yolk mixture. By hand, gently fold in the egg whites.
  4. Chop the dark chocolate and add it to the batter. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and let it cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Make the Genoise (Basic Sponge Cake) (page 154).
  6. When the cake is done (it will turn golden brown, remove it from the pan immediately and transfer it to a cooling rack.
  7. When the cake is cool, cut it into 3 layers.
  8. Assembly: Brew the coffee and add a little bit of sugar to taste.
  9. Use a soaking bottle or pastry brush to soak the Genoise with the sweetened coffee.
  10. Place the first layer of coffee-soaked Genoise in the bottom of a glass dish and pour over some of the tiramisù mixture. Repeat layering with the Genoise and tiramisù mixture 2 more times. To finish, top with a sprinkling of cocoa powder.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Genoise (Basic Sponge Cake)

  • Vegetable oil for greasing the pan
  • 6 eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Oil a baking sheet pant and line it with parchment paper
  2. Crack the eggs into the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the sugar, vanilla bean seeds and salt. MIx at high speed for at least 8 minutes, while gently warming the outside of the bowl with a kitchen blowtorch (like the kind you'd use to carmelize sugar when making creme brulee), being very careful not to overheat or burn the batter or expose the torch to open flame. Alternatively, you can just use room temperature eggs without the blowtorch. The warmth allows the ingredients in the bowl to rise and incorporate air, chich is the post important part of creating a light, airy sponge.
  3. Sift the flour into the egg mixture, gently folding it in. Place about 10 percent of the batter in a separate bowl and combine it with the melted butter (the butter should be liquified but not hot). Once the butter is throughly mixed in, fold it back into the bowl with the rest of the batter.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet. Using an offset spatula, spread the sponge batter into a thin layer and bake for 4-5 mintue or until golden brown.